Why Getting Out of the Office is Critical for Company Culture
BY BRIAN KELLEY
In the book “Confessions of an Advertising Man,” marketing legend David Ogilvy described how he views his company’s culture:
“We like people who are honest. Honest in argument, honest with clients, honest with suppliers, honest with the company – and above all, honest with consumers. We admire people who work hard, who are objective and thorough. We do not admire superficial people. We despise office politicians, toadies, bullies and pompous asses.”
While perhaps a bit on-the-nose, this quote provides insight into the type of attitude that drove his communications firm “Ogilvy & Mather” to be well-renowned and known as one of the best places for creative communications professionals to work. Outside of the type of people he looked to attract and advance in his organization, Ogilvy emphasized honesty and integrity as critical components to understanding how to cultivate an authentic and effective company culture.
There are a variety of ways to cultivate authentic engagement for employees from the management perspective. Perhaps one of the most effective ways of showing employees that management cares about the wellbeing of the staff is facilitating periodic employee engagement events. One of the ways we do this at Sage Communications is by finding "low-hanging fruit" engagement opportunities. Just the other week, we celebrated “National PB&J Day” by buying peanut butter, jelly and bread, and setting out snacks in the kitchen. Small gestures like these repeated over time can have large and long-lasting effects on office camaraderie and workplace satisfaction of employees.
Additionally, these type of events break down the common misconceptions that employee engagement events are costly, hard to establish, and distracting from day-to-day work. I’ve found exactly the opposite of that to be true. In fact, there are TONS of benefits that can come from taking small steps to build a company culture that shows your team you care. In addition to boosting morale and giving employees something to look forward to outside of their work responsibilities, here are some ways that I’ve found employee engagement events positively affect company culture:
Building meaningful relationships
The most direct and identifiable benefits of employee engagement events is teambuilding among coworkers . Think about it, if you have a 40-hour work week (optimistically) and only chat with the people you see in a professional context, you might feel stripped of authentic human interaction. Alternatively, giving employees an easily accessible route to connect with colleagues outside of the office at a happy hour or local sporting event can help strengthen working relationships and give employees a more meaningful employment experience.
For the first time in American history, there are five generations in the workforce. By connecting these individuals of different age groups in your organization, you can help everyone, even across generational divides, to grow and learn from each other in a mentor/mentee capacity. Allowing people to engage with each other in a low-pressure environment is the first step in making them comfortable with sharing their experiences widely and helping themselves grow with their colleagues .
Empowering employees by incorporating their ideas into the execution of engagement activities can significantly enhance their satisfaction at work and excitement about the job as a whole . Our internal communications staff often coordinates events based on what we think might be a fun thing to do, because we know that in order to have a successful team building event, having buy-in from the participants is what will make it successful from the start. Whether it’s a quick-and-easy snack event for a national food day or coordinating a trip to the local paintball course, cultivating events based on the things employees actually want to do adds that critical layer of authenticity in engaging team members.
Whatever employee engagement event you do, do it in an authentic way that your staff will appreciate and want to attend. What is most important from a management perspective is showing your team that you care and giving them the tools to make our workplace the one they want it to be.